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Comment: Re:Growing Isolation (Score 2) 157

by MisterSquid (#48581965) Attached to: Google Closing Engineering Office In Russia

That's why the price of oil has tumbled. It's collusion to drive Russia further into chaos.

That's why the price of oil has tumbled. It's collusion to drive Russia further into chaos.

It's not collusion; it's strategic economic sanction using market manipulation.

Non-OPEC oil-producing nations have increased their oil production thereby glutting the market. Once the oil market tumbled, Russia's bid to annex Ukraine to secure oil supply not only became moot. It also became a liability.

Now that the fallen Russian economy is forecast to fall even further, Putin's political machine is trying to counter the historical record provided by international journalism with Russia's homegrown Internet propaganda machine, which is part of the reason Google is being forced out of Russia.

That is, at the same time Russia ramps its efforts to pollute the historical record with Internet trolls, it needs to eject the (mostly, ha!) politically neutral search results provided by Western Internet companies such as Google.

Comment: Re:Byebye supercooling, hello pressure containment (Score 1) 80

by smaddox (#48560197) Attached to: High Temperature Superconductivity Record Smashed By Sulfur Hydride

My take is that the theory for most high temperature superconductors is incomplete, which makes it difficult to find even higher temperature superconductors (because we don't know what to look for). In contrast, the superconductivity present in this sample is well understood and thus these results might suggest where to look next.

Comment: Re:Shakedown (Score 3, Informative) 127

by MisterSquid (#48553261) Attached to: Civil Rights Groups Divided On Net Neutrality

What confuses me is how Net Neutrality could do anything but help the urban and rural poor because Net Neutrality aims to prevent ISPs from discriminating between the sources and destinations of packets meaning that the traffic of non-profits (for example) and will be equally served by ISP networks in the US to the users of those networks.

Am I missing something here?

My suspicion is that the advocacy groups don't have a good understanding of how Net Neutrality will protect all users and content providers from ISP exploitation and that these advocacy groups have been given misinformation by advisors who, in fact, are in the back pocket's of the ISPs.

Is this what's going on?

Comment: Re:Great (Score 4, Interesting) 42

by flyingsquid (#48551381) Attached to: Curiosity's Mars Crater Was Once a Vast Lake

It's not as if you're going to be able to crack open one of those rocks and find the Martian equivalent of a trilobite. For most of Earth's history, the dominant forms of life were microbes, and only in the last 600 million years or so when oxygen levels increase do large multicellular forms appear. Mars, assuming it ever had life, probably never got that far. So fossil evidence will consist of fossilized microbes- which will require cracking open rocks, thin-sectioning them, and inspecting them under a microscope. The other possibility is doing chemical analyses of the rocks and looking for geochemical evidence of life- isotopic ratios or organic compounds that could only be explained by the presence of life. Either way, it will require a fairly sophisticated laboratory. Either we have to conduct a sample-return mission, or we need to develop miniature laboratories that can be sent to Mars.

Although it now seems as if there is a third option. Recently, a meteorite was discovered which appears to represent a sedimentary rock from Mars. It's spendy stuff- $10,000 a gram- but that's vastly cheaper than a sample-return mission. A multimillion-dollar program to prospect for Martian meteorites on Earth is another way to look for Martian sedimentary rocks.

Comment: Re:I'd be curious about the consequences. (Score 1) 85

by flyingsquid (#48547169) Attached to: North Korea Denies Involvement In "Righteous" Sony Hack

There was an initial round of finger-pointing towards North Korea, and now a bunch of people saying, hold up, this doesn't really make sense for North Korea to be behind the attacks. OK, it's not logical, but as as the previous poster argues, 1) North Korea isn't logical (or rather, they are logical but employ something rather different than the logic found outside of North Korea) and 2) what's the alternative?

Internet security experts are of the opinion that this was launched by a large and well-organized group. That suggests we aren't dealing with a disgruntled employee, but with either a large criminal organization or a nation-state. This narrows things down considerably.

Next, let's look at motives. If the organization is a criminal organization, they're going to be out for one thing: money. As far as we know, there weren't any financial demands. The hackers said "if you don't obey us, then we'll release data shown below to the world", but they never mention money. The group's name- Guardians of Peace- is also telling, and there's the bizarrely moral tone of the hackers. "You, the criminals including Michael Lynton will surely go to hell. Nobody can help you". They are doing this for ideological reasons. Of course organizations like Anonymous also engage in politically motivated hacking, but they're usually upfront about the cause and the fact that it's Anonymous, which suggests it's not them.

Which brings us to North Korea. Again, it doesn't make sense... but this is a nation that reveres its dictators as gods and lives in a bizarre bubble of disinformation, lies, and communist mythology. Things that seem insane to us make sense in this communist Bizarro-world. Hacking Sony is bizarre, but this is a nation that starves, impoverishes and executes its citizens to maintain their grip on power... if they did it, hacking Sony was probably not even the craziest thing that happened that week in the country. And as for not wanting to provoke a war... these guys torpedoed and sank a South Korean naval ship killing 46 people. If that's not going to create a war, no way hacking Sony will. And the thing is, they actually *want* to go to the brink of war, but not quite over the edge into a war. If they can keep the tension ratcheted up they gain in negotiations with the outside world and can convince their citizens that the State is necessary to protect them all. It's like they're using 1984 as a manual: a state of perpetual warfare (or at least military readiness) provides a convenient pretext for anything the state does to exploit and oppress people.

Last, the attacks bear striking similarities to recent attacks against South Korea, down to the skeleton-themed graphics that look like they're from some mid-1990s video game console, the tacky red-and-green text, the poor English ("Warninig" instead of "Warning"), and the approach of taking user data hostage. It's pretty clearly North Korea.

Comment: Re: 5th Admendment? (Score 1) 446

by smaddox (#48514047) Attached to: 18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Mod patent as insightful! I've never heard it put that way, but there's likely some truth there. However, I don't know how many errors occur during copying vs during normal cell life.

Also, we now know that there's a third form of evolution involving DNA sharing (I forget the technical term). Humans have a lot of junk DNA from retro viruses, for example, that could be reactivated by a few mutations (usually to the detriment of the human).

Obviously, this is not my area of expertise, but it's fascinating.

Comment: Re:Snowden revenge? (Score 1) 130

by flyingsquid (#48510655) Attached to: Celebrated Russian Hacker Now In Exile

When all is said and done, the US is still a helluva lot freer than Russia.

Not to be that guy who says we're living in a police state and quotes Orwell while knowing damn well the government isn't going to bust him in his mother's basement... but in at least one way, I would be willing to bet that we are far less free than Russia. And that would be freedom from surveillance. Between the various NSA programs to log our emails, track our calls, and monitor our online activity, I would be willing to bet that the average U.S. citizen sees far more surveillance than the average Russian citizen. It's not that Russia is morally superior here, it's that the NSA is probably a lot better at monitoring communications than its Russian counterpart. That being said, I suspect Russia has the ability to target dissidents, is more willing to use it, and is far more likely to act on intercepted data than the NSA. The NSA is probably a better spy, but not nearly as dangerous a spy.

Comment: Re:Snowden revenge? (Score 5, Funny) 130

by flyingsquid (#48510571) Attached to: Celebrated Russian Hacker Now In Exile
Or maybe both of them can go into exile together in a third country. And Julian Assange can go there too. And they'll share an apartment together. It'd make a great sitcom. "Three hacker dissidents exiled from their native countries... now they're all living in one house! See what kind of wacky adventures they get into!"

Comment: A plausible method of intergalactic travel? (Score 1) 184

If you could accelerate an interstellar ship enough the intercept one of these exiting stars, you could orbit it and use it's radiation to sustain the colony. Eventually, the colony could reach another galaxy.

Of course, this assumes building and accelerating an interstellar ship to c/3 is feasible, which is still a bit of a stretch, though not impossible.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982